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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The main thrust of The Tempest is revenge, as Prospera tries to get even with those who wronged her years before. She plays cruel tricks on her visitors and eventually gets everything she wants. Most of the characters behave selfishly and squabble amongst themselves. There are no consequences for any of this behavior. Prince Ferdinand and Miranda are the only ones who rise above this, coming across as both naïve and redeemed by true love.
Positive Role Models
Prospera -- a powerful woman and a single mother -- is an interesting role model, if not exactly a positive one: She withholds information from her daughter and is bent on revenge. And aside from the story's pair of young lovers, there are no other admirable characters; most of the players are selfish and/or cruel and pay no consequences for their behavior.
Violence & Scariness
No real fighting, but there are threats and shouting. Sebastian and Antonio draw their swords in an attempt to kill their king while he sleeps. There are also some frightening images when Ariel appears as a "black angel of death" and as Prospera conjures up some of her black magic.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Prince Ferdinand and Miranda declare their love for each other and are seen kissing. Ariel and Caliban are seen wearing very little clothing. Caliban wears a loincloth, and Ariel's naked buttocks are on view from time to time.
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One use of "damned."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Stephano turns up stumbling drunk, carrying a bottle of booze. He shares it with Trinculo and then gives some to the monster, Caliban. Caliban has never tasted alcohol before, and he becomes instantly enchanted and overcome by it; he pledges his servitude to Stephano in exchange for more.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this sometimes-scary adaptation of one of Shakespeare's final plays is all about revenge. The central character, Prospero, has been changed to a woman (Prospera); she's powerful, though not exactly a positive role model, given that she's the one consumed by vengeance. Two of the male characters are seen in skimpy costumes and/or semi-nude, and there are some frightening fantasy images and threats of violence. One character is portrayed as a comical drunk who uses alcohol to influence another character's will. Teens who enjoy Shakespeare may find it an accessible adaptation, but kids who aren't fans of the Bard likely won't be interested. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In 1999, director Julie Taymor delivered a dynamic, exciting version of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus (simply called Titus), but here she seems a bit less focused. Her idea to change Prospero into a woman is a good one, but it doesn't really add up to much. Other ideas are likewise underused, such as matching the playful comedy of Russell Brand to the role of Trinculo.
The production features a visual effects-enhanced Ariel (played by Ben Whishaw) that dashes to and fro and changes into a scary, dark, avenging angel. Other effects -- and the bizarre costumes (made with an endless array of zippers) -- feel flat and aren't particularly fitted to the material. Carney in particular gives a pathetic, marble-mouthed performance as the prince, but many of the other actors are terrific, including Mirren, Hounsou, and Alan Cumming as the sniggering, selfish Sebastian. Overall, even if it doesn't completely mesh, there's still much to like in this TEMPEST.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.